After attending an Outstanding in the Field farm dinner in southern California two months earlier, I was interested to see how a Plate & Pitchfork farm dinner would stack up. OITF leads events throughout the United States and the crew travels in a large bus; Plate & Pitchfork is an Oregon-only series of dinners. Both pull local chefs and wineries to cook and pour at different farms, so each evening is its own unique experience. Plate & Pitchfork had me at “hello” with their informational email: “children, no matter how small and adorable, may not attend dinner.” First of all, apologies to my many friends with (indeed) adorable children, but you gotta love the blunt. Second, this must be in the best interests of the farm and hosts; there is enough chaos at these dinners that it would probably become some version of a food-loving wedding reception if children were allowed. (And no one needs little Jimmy falling in the pig mud.)
Looking at my photos now, I’m realizing I took a lot of landscape shots because I couldn’t get over the visual appeal of Willamette Valley. I have been to Napa Valley several times, which is also strikingly beautiful, but Oregon ups the ante with ominous clouds, skyscraping trees, and sweeping farmland that betrays its fierce rural character, despite being just 30 miles south of Portland. Tastings are often at the discretion of the winemakers—Patricia Green‘s website: “We do not have a tasting room nor regular tasting hours, but we try to be accommodating, especially for enthusiastic individuals.” I imagine Willamette Valley is what Napa was 20 years ago (winemakers joke that their “old vine” grapes are from the early 1980’s), and here’s hoping it stays that way, even if it’s a secret worth passing around.
This was my second visit to Portland, Oregon. The first time, I had been living in Seattle for two weeks to see if I wanted to move there. I decided a weekend in Portland to weigh my options was only fair. Back then, my limited research had us eating at some places that didn’t impress much, especially after hearing so much about this feisty food tradition (tattoos required). I decided I would need to put in the work for Round II.
Upon announcing I was going to Portland, several people told me to eat at Beast, a (wait for it) meat-worshipping eatery on a northeastern residential side street. Beast unapologetically offers a 6-course prix fixe dinner with two seatings per night at two communal tables, with “substitutions politely declined.” Vegetarians, you’re obviously out of luck. (Though someone at my table said Beast offers a vegetarian menu on certain days. Straying from its brand or giving the people what they want?) Overall, our menu—which changes weekly—was not overwhelmingly carnivorous and utilized an array of vegetables (though the charcuterie plate doesn’t mess around).